Vantage: High-conviction investing with Alexander Darwall

Published on 13 April 2022

In this interview, Vantage meets Alexander Darwall, a manager who established a great performance track record and following while at Jupiter and made the entrepreneurial leap in 2019 to set up a boutique manager, Devon Equity Management, where he is now the chief investment officer. Other managers who have done this have had mixed fortunes – some, such as Nick Train, have established very successful businesses, but others, such as Neil Woodford, have failed. We look at what will give Alexander an edge and highlight a manager focused on  what he does well, identifying businesses with strong market power that deliver above-average earnings growth and margins. His new remit allows him to be vocal about trying to make money for his clients. The team members at Devon pair up when looking at investment ideas, searching for companies with strong IP that competitors find hard to imitate and regulators are not interested in challenging. These companies can outperform from their technology, changing consumer habits and regulation over the economic cycle. The team validates its views through cross-checking its thesis with competitors, suppliers and expert networks. This approach is illustrated by the investment in Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO), which, along with Eli Lily (LLY.N), is the dominant player in treating diabetes and obesity. Useful nuggets of information are found through monitoring social media on Novo Nordisk’s GLP1 drug and validating the manager’s view with Dassault Systèmes (DAST.PA), whose Medidata business is focused on medical data and provides another perspective on Novo Noridsk.

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